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History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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the bank, they would never have troubled anybody in the house. He covered her
carefully and tenderly with the bed-clothes, and did everything in his power to
make her comfortable. This same villain, who seems to have been the Chesterfield
of the party, noticed that the servant girl was shivering, when he brought a blanket
from the bed and tenderly wrapped her up. He offered to perform the same kind
office for Mrs. Smith, but she cut his gallant attentions short by a decided snub.
The family probably owed it to the soft-heartendess and good humor of this polite
member of the gang that they were not shut up in their prison much longer than
they were.

In the course of their talk — and there was considerable — the man who first
entered Mrs. Smith's room claimed that he had told her the truth, but she expressed
something more than a doubt of his veracity. She said he had promised to return
her rings, which he had taken from her and thrown under the bed. He then said
they were in the slop Jar near her; but she replied that she did not believe him.
Then he changed his story and said they were in a cup on the table. She said that
now she knew he was lying. He finally said he would give them to her; and he
laid them on her lap. Thinking that if they were left there in sight some of the
other men would carry them off, she told him to put them on her fingers; and he
did as she directed, getting down on the floor and putting the rings in their accus-
tomed places on her fingers. She then told him to bring her watch. After inquiring
which it was, he took it to her, put the chain around her neck and left it there; and
it was not taken afterwards. Her father's watch was also returned the same way.
But Eugene's watch — a very valuable one — was carried off.

The booty for which the expedition was organized having been secured, it only
remained for the robbers to make their escape, after having imprisoned their victims
in such a manner that no alarm could be given for several hours. And this they
proceeded to* do. Eugene, the cashier, was bound to a chair, and he and his father


were tied back to back, as the two women had been. Before this was done, however,
one of the robbers asked where the hammer and nails were kept. Mrs.
Smith told him she didn't know, when the robber swore an oath or two and
told her that she lied. One of the party then went down stairs to find the
needed articles and in a little time came back with a few tenpenny nails, which it
was afterward discovered he pulled from the pantry walls. With these nails they
proceeded to fasten the door leading to the back staircase. This door swung into
the room occupied by the family, and the robbers drove four nails into the casing at
its edge, so as to fasten it very firmly. They stripped the bed which the girl had
occupied and placed it against the little window near the floor so as to prevent a
ray of light from shining through. They proceeded to remove every lamp from
the room; but at the earnest solicitation of Mrs. Eobinson and in view of what they
believed to be her dangerous condition, the heart of her particular attendant
relented and it was finally agreed that one of their dark lanterns should be left
burning on the stand at the head of the bed. The same kind soul also placed her
camphor and water ready to her hand, and insisted that she should not have her
hands manacled. HandcufEs were placed on her ankles, however, and she was tied
to the bed with strips torn from one of the sheets.

All this being arranged, one of the party made a little speech to the captives,
telling them that the house would be watched until morning, and that if anybody
went out of it he would be killed. He also hinted that if they moved, tipped over
a chair, or anything of that sort, some train might be fired and something very
dreadful might happen. The burglars then left the room. They locked the door
leading to the front stairs, and secured it further by driving a couple of tenpenny
nails into the casing on the outside. In driving all these nails they used a hammer
which they found down stairs. Afterwards a heavy sledge hammer, which they had
taken from P. Gr. Lyon's blacksmith shop, was found at the head of the stairs.

The robbers then passed down the stairs and out the front door, which they
slammed behind them and locked on the outside, throwing away the key. They at
once loaded themselves and their booty into their vehicles, which they had left in
the shed of the Episcopal church, and drove rapidly out of town in the direction
of Elmira.

The villains had indeed gone; but the bound, imprisoned and terrified family
were helpless until the coming day should bring suspicion, inquiry and relief from
the neighbors. For about an hour they remained silent and irresolute, imagining and
dreading some further calamity if they attempted to help themselves. At last,
however, the women began to talk in whispers, and it was agreed that Mrs. Eobinson
should make an effort to get up and cut the cords which bound the others. She
succeeded without much trouble in loosening the cords which bound her to the bed.
In the meantime Mr. Eobinson and Eugene had hitched their chairs toward the
bed. Mrs. Eobinson got up, and hobbling as well as she could with her shackled
feet, reached her husband, took his knife from his pocket, cut the Cords which held
the gags in the men's mouths, and then proceeded to sever the ropes which bound
them in their chairs. This was not a very rapid job, but it was finally accomplished,
and the father and son were free, except that their hands were still manacled
behind their backs. And now the work went on more rapidly. Eugene took the


knife, ajid sitting on the floor he soon succeeded in cutting the cords which bound
his sister and the girl. The captives were now all free to see and to talk, although
the four stronger ones still had their hands bound behind, and Mrs. Eobinson was
shackled by stout steel handcuffs.

But how were they to get out of their prison and arouse the neighbors?
Looking around the room, they happily found a new large screw driver which the
burglars had left behind. With this the two men went to work to bend back the
nails which fastened the door leading to the back staircase. Hampered as they
were they took turns at this work, standing on a chair to reach the upper nails;
and after much tiresome labor they were rewarded — ^the door came open and they
were free to pass out. Then they looked at their watches and it was 3:45 o'clock.
The next thing to be done was to get the colored man Joe up and send him for
the neighbors. They could not take the dark lantern to light them through to
Joe's room, for they feared the house might still be watched from the outside> and
the movement of the light be seen. So Mrs. Smith and Eugene started in the
dark to awaken Joe. Mrs. Smith stated that she was afraid at each step that she
might feel the touch of a burglar, and one can easily imagine how a frail woman at
such an hour and under such circumstances, might feel. Nevertheless the heroic
woman and her brother went through the back hall and into the dark room
beyond. Here Eugene went to the low window to see if there was any suspicious
movement outside, while Mrs. Smith, carefully feeling her way with her foot at
each step, slowly went toward Joe's door. At last it was reached, and summoning
all her resolution, she opened it, went into the room and placed her hand on the
fortunate colored man who had not been molested by the burglars. She told him
that the bank and house had been robbed, and that he must get up and dress himself
at once. Joe did so; and he soon made his appearance clad and in his right mind but
very badly frightened. Mr. Eobinson requested him to go down stairs, get out of
the window of his bedroom, climb over the fence, and call up Judge Williams. Joseph
demurred; he couldn't do that for love nor money; he would surely be gobbled up
by some of those awful robbers, and there would be no more Joe! It was finally
arranged that Eugene should make the proposed trip and that Joe should go along
to act as hands for him. And so the two departed on their errand, and succeeded
in reaching Judge Williams' house -nithout mishap*.

The Judge was quickly aroused and soon made his appearance. By this time
Mr. Eobinson's family had got down stairs; but no lamps belonging to the house
could be found nor any matches, and the Judge was obliged to go home to get a
lantern. It was afterward found that the burglars had gathered up every lamp
in the house, except the chandeliers, and placed them in the woodshed.

The alarm having been given, the news spread rapidly through that part of
the town, and before daylight many citizens had congregated at the scene of the
crime. Blacksmiths were sent for and the gyves were cut from the limbs of the
members of the family. It was found that nobody had been hurt except the father,
John L. Eobinson, whose face had been cut in the struggle with his captors.

The news of this high-handed crime spread rapidly and caused a profound

* It was afterward learned that one of the parties was stationed at the door of Judge WiUiams' home, armed
with a heavy club, to strike him down in case he heard any noise and came forth to investigate.

WBLLSBOso (continued). 343

sensation. Everybody was ezcited. At first the family of the banker was looked
after and their wants provided for. This caused a delay of fully two hours before
pursuit was thought of. Attention was then turned to this important matter and an
organization was effected, but it was 6 o'clock before any one left the borough to
pursue the robbers. It was quickly learned that they had fed their horses at the
Episcopal church shed, and that one horse they drove wore a circular shoe. This
was an important clue. Information soon came that the party of six men had passed
down the road toward Tioga, and it was also learned that the robbers drove into
Elmira between 8 and 9 o'clock in the morning, having covered the forty-two miles
in about six and a half hours.

In their flight they seemed to have been daring, if not reckless. They threw
out parts of their disguise, which were afterwards found, at various points along the
road; and they drove for miles by the side of the only telegraph line which con-
nected WeUsboro and Elmira at that time and never attempted to cut the wire.
But it seems that good luck, or something else, favored them in their flight, for the
message from WeUsboro advising the Elmira authorities of what had occurred was
delayed at Coming for several hours, and did not reach Elmira until two hours after
the robbers had arrived there !


The money and negotiable securities taken from the bank amounted to be-
tween $30,000 and $35,000. About $30,000 in negotiable bonds, left as special
deposits, were also taken. In addition to these valuables, which could be made
available in the hands of third parties, $10,000 of registered bonds and nearly
$30,000 of non-negotiable securities were also taken. A number of the bonds were
carried to England and negotiated, and when the Geneva award was paid they came
back to this government.

Prompt steps were taken to ascertain the condition of the bank. A reward of
$5,000 was offered for the return of the property, or $1,000 for the arrest and con-
viction of each of the robbers. The officers and directors of the bank promptly
issued a card assuring the public that the loss sustained would not affect the solvency
of the institution and that all checks would "be paid as usual at the counter of the


As the whole country was alarmed, and everybody was on the alert, the chief
robber was soon traced to Waverly and arrested with much of the stolen plunder
in his possession, including the fine gold watch taken from Cashier Eobinson. He
proved to be one Cosgrove, with many aliases, and was known to the police as an
expert cracksman and burglar. A young man named Orson Cook, who drove the
wagon, was also captured, and was brought to "WeUsboro with Cosgrove, and both
were securely locked up in the county jail. The other members of the band es-
caped and some of them made their way across the ocean, bearing with them several
thousand dollars' worth of negotiable bonds.

At the ISTovember sessions, 1874, Cosgrove and Cook were tried and convicted.
Judge Wilson, assisted by Associates Smith and MeNaughton, presided. The pris-


oners were defended by Messrs. Williston, Mitchell and Cameron, while the prose-
cution was conducted by W. A. Stone, district attorney, assisted by Hon. Mortimer
F. Elliott.

Isaac Marsh, alias Ike Morris, alias Howard, alias Cosgrove, was sentenced by
Judge Wilson as follows: First count, pay a fine of $1,000, costs, and be imprisoned
nine years and nine months in the Eastern Penitentiary; second count, restore the
stolen goods, pay a fine of $500, and be imprisoned three years; third count, pay a
fine of $500, and be imprisoned four years, making a total fine of $3,000 and sixteen
years and nine months in solitary confinement.

Orson Cook was also convicted on three counts. His term of service was one
year less on each count than was imposed on Cosgrove, making his total time
thirteen years and nine months. He was very much cast down on receiving his
sentence, but Cosgrove was bold and defiant, declaring that it was simply bad luck
on his part, and if he were at liberty he would do the same thing again.


The remarkable career of Cosgrove as a criminal had a singular, if not ro-
mantic, termination. There is a humanitarian society in Philadelphia whose duty
it is to look after long term and hardened criminals, and make an efEort to reclaim
them. The attention of the society was attracted to Cosgrove, and when he emerged
from prison after serving his long sentence, he was kindly taken in charge by this
society, a boarding house was secured for him, he was kept away from evil asso-
ciations, and an efEort made to reclaim him by good infiuences. The effort was not
without reward. Kindness, moral suasion, and pious teaching had its effect on the
hardened criminal. He saw the evil of his ways and declared that he had resolved
to live a new life.

In the meantime Hon. Henry "W. Williams, who was president judge of the
court in which Cosgrove had been convicted in 1874, had been promoted to the
bench of the Supreme Court of the State, and was living in Philadelphia when he
emerged from prison. Much to his surprise, one evening in the winter of 1891, he
received a letter from Cosgrove telling him what had been done for him by the
society, and saying that with his permission he would be glad to pay him a personal
visit and tell him of his conversion through the kindly offices of the humanitarian
society. Permission was granted, Cosgrove came and the meeting was a very
pleasant one; he related the story of his life, told what had been done for him and
his change of purpose. Judge Williams encouraged him to be firm in his purpose
and good would follow his resolve.

Within six or eight weeks Judge Williams received an invitation to be present
on a certain evening at Trinity Episcopal church, Philadelphia, to witness the bap-
tism and confirmation of Cosgrove. "I attended," remarked Judge Williams at
the close of relating this strange story, "and witnessed the solemn ceremony, con-
gratulated him on his changed life and upon the favoring influences by which he
was surrounded at the beginning of his work as a Christian man."

"Did he remain firm in the faith ?" the Judge was asked. "I kept track of him
for one or two years," he replied, "and he was still living a consistent and useful life,
and was engaged when I last heard from him, as a sort of general overseer and pur-


chasing agent for a large private hospital under the care of the society which had
reclaimed him."


The tannery established between 1812 and 1816 by Joseph Fish was operated
by him until 1828, when he sold it to Elhs M. Bodine, who had removed to Wellsboro
from Jersey Shore. In 1846 his growing business made it necessary for him to
erect a larger biulding. This was destroyed by iire in 1848 and was not rebuilt, Mr.
Bodine retiring from the business and devoting himself to farming.

The Wellsboro Tannery is the outgrowth of a small tanning enterprise estab-
lished about 1825 by William Taylor, who carried it on until his death about 1846.
His widow married Joseph EiberoUe, who conducted the business there until 1857,
when he erected a new tannery building across the street on the site of the present
tannery. Here he carried on business for many years. Since 1881 the plant has
been owned and operated by John Gisin. In 1886 the old building was destroyed
by fire, and was replaced by the present building. Mr. Gisin manufactures upper
leather, which is shipped to Eoston in the red and finished state.

The Spencer Planing and Shingle Mill is the successor of one of the oldest
manufacttiring enterprises in Wellsboro. About 1830 David Caldwell located in
the borough and started a cabinet shop, having as an apprentice Benjamin T. Van
Horn, who remained with him five years and then opened a shop of his own on
the site now occupied by J. C. & S. A. Spencer. Here for fifteen years all his work
was done by hand. In 1850 the shop was equipped with machinery. Mr. Van
Horn continued in business until 1872, when he sold the shop and plant to his
son, Eankin L. Van Horn, and his son-in-law, N. T. Chandler. This firm carried
on cabinet making and general wood working and operated the plant until the
fall of 1894, when they sold it to J. C. & S. A. Spencer, the present proprietors. It
is situated on the northeast corner of Pearl and Wain streets, and is devoted to
planing, matching, moulding, scroll sawing and shingle making.

The first wagon shop in Wellsboro was established about 1836 by Sylvester
Kelley, on Main street, just above Dr. Shearer's residence. He ran it about ten
years. Another shop was established about 1844 by Seneca B. Kendall. About
1845 Hiram W. Dartt entered this shop as an apprentice and within a year purchased
an interest in it. In 1850 the firm became Dartt & Gray and so continued for
about two years, when Mr. Dartt bought out Gray's interest and carried on the
business for himself until 1884, when his son, Albert P., succeeded him. In 1890
he consolidated the plant with that of the Wellsboro Carriage Company, which has
since been owned and operated by himself and his brother, Edgar S. Dartt. The
front part of the old shop on Main street, near Hiram W. Dartt's residence, is used
for a broom factory. In the rear part Mr. Dartt, though advanced in years, although
not regularly engaged in manufacturing, still works at his trade.

About 1850 Andrew Crowl established a wagon shop on Water street, near the
site of Watkins' livery stable, where he manufactured wagons, carriages, sleighs,
etc., for twenty years.

The Wellsboro Carriage Worhs were founded about 1870, by E. L. Mack, who
was succeeded in 1888 by the Wellsboro Carriage Company, composed of W. E.


Wisehart, E. S. Dartt and E. W. Keifer. The shop was destroyed by fire in 1889,
It was rebuilt; the plant of A. P. Dartt consolidated with that of the old proprietors,
and the works have since been carried on by A. P. and E. S. Dartt, who compose
the present Wellsboro Carriage Company. About fifteen men are employed the
year round. The plant is located on East avenue, opposite the Bache Auditorium.

The Wellsboro Foundry and Machine Shop was established about 1854 by A.
P. Cone and was operated by him for a number of years, since which time it has
had various owners, among them being Young & Williams, Williams & Sears, Keen
& Company, William C. Kress and E. H. Edwards, who ran it up to the close of
1895. The plant then lay idle until December, 1896, when White Brothers took
charge of it and are now operating it as a foundry and machine shop.

B. H. Edwards' Foundry and Machine Shop is a new enterprise on State
street. It was started as a machine shop in December, 1895, and a foundry added
in December, 1896. Five men are employed.

Sheffer's Brewery was established about 1868, on Kelsey creek, back of the
Coles House, by Charles ShefEer. He died in 1876 and his widow carried on the
brewery until 1878, after which the building was converted into a family dwelling.

Och's Brewery was established about 1875 by John Och, on Charleston creek,
near the present railroad station. It was washed away by the June flood of 1889,
and was not rebuilt.

The Wellsboro Manufacturing and Building Company (Limited) is the successor
of a sash factory established about 1870, on the same site at the foot of Main street,
by Benjamin Austin. He died in 1873 and the plant was carried on by his heirs for
a time and then by Truman & Bowen until it was destroyed by fire in 1878. In
1879 the present bxiildings were erected and plant established by Harman, Borden
& Trull. In 1880 Mr. Trull retired and the firm became Harman, Borden & Com-
pany, which was succeeded in July, 1892, by the Wellsboro Manufacturing and
Building Company (Limited). The capital stock of this corporation is $15,000.
It manufactures much of the lumber used by the company for building and other
purposes; operates a large planing mill; gives employment to fifteen hands, and
does a general wood working, contracting and building business. Its officers are
as follows: E. J. Borden, superintendent; E. J. Borden, J. H. Harman, J. W.
Mather, L. A. Gardner and P. W. Graves, managers.

The Wellsboro Cigar Factory, on Queen street, is the successor of a factory
previously occupied by C. A. Yale. The pioneer factory was established about
1872 by Mr. Yale, on Main street, near the Wellsborough National Bank, and was
afterwards operated by him at various locations in the borough. In 1881 the C.
A. Yale Cigar Company was incorporated. In 1885 the name was changed to the
Grand Master Cigar Company and for about two years the company did a large
business, employing nearly 100 hands. The business was continued by C. A. Yale.
In 1894 M. H. Stebbins, of Sabinsville, purchased a half interest in the factory,
of Mrs. C. A. Yale. Three men were then employed. The business was continued
until April, 1895, under the firm name of C. A. Yale & Company, since which time
Mr. Stebbins has been the sole proprietor. Eleven hands are employed and 400,000
cigars manufactured annually.


The C. A. Yale Cigar Factory was established in the spring of 1896. It is the
successor of a small factory established in March, 1894, by A. H. Ballinger. The
factory is located on East avenue, near Pearl street.

The Wellsboro Boiler Mill, situated on East avenue, east of Main street, was
erected in 1890 by S. L. Herrington and i^'. E. Field, on the site of a mill built
several years before by Andrew Kloek and S. L. Herrington, but which was destroyed
by fire in 1890. The present mill is a four-story structure, equipped with eleven
sets of rollers, and has a capacity of thirty barrels of flour, ten tons of feed and
400 bushels of buckwheat per day. Steam power is used. Herrington & Field
ran the mill until 1893, when it became the property of A. I. Nichols and William
Bache, Jr., who operate it under the name of Nichols & Bache. It is devoted to
custom work and the manufacture of flour for general trade.

The Keystone Mills, located on the north side of Charleston street, near the
railroad, were erected in 1886 by Alanson Spencer and the Dicldnson estate, the
machinery of the old Dickinson mill below the borough being used as part of the
interior equipment, which consists of four run of buhrs, driven by steam.
It is still operated by Mr. Spencer, and is devoted to the grinding of wheat, buck-
wheat, corn, feed, etc.

The Wellsboro Glass Company (Limited) was formed in 1886, with a capital
of $50,000. The main projector of the enterprise was John W. Bailey, who took
a deep interest in founding the plant. The company organized by electing the
following officers: President, John W. Bailey; secretary, Walter Sherwood;
treasurer, J. M. Eobinson. The works were fitted up in good style for the manu-
facture of glass, and were in successful operation, when, on November 8, 1888,
the plant was destroyed by fire, entailing a loss of $28,000, on which there was an

Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 45 of 163)